MMA Review: #633: UFC Fight Night 126

-This show actually looked pretty high on action fights despite not having many big names, as the likes of Cerrone, Medeiros, Lewis, Trinaldo etc nearly always bring it. Not the best card of 2018 on paper but I was actually pretty intrigued.

UFC Fight Night 126

Austin, Texas

-Your hosts are Brendan Fitzgerald and Jimmy Smith.

Lightweight Fight: Sage Northcutt vs Thibault Gouti

This was Northcutt’s first fight since November, when he’d beaten Michel Quinones. This was a slight step up in competition for him as Gouti had beaten Andrew Holbrook in his last fight, but with three prior UFC losses I figured he was a beatable opponent for Sage.

Round One begins and Northcutt throws out some punches as Gouti stalks forward. Couple of decent shots land for Gouti so Sage tackles him into side mount to a big crowd pop. Little action follows as Sage seems content just to hold him down, and Gouti doesn’t appear to be that great off his back. Nice right hand lands for Sage as Gouti tries to scramble. He grabs a front headlock and looks to take the back, but Gouti escapes to his feet instead. Exchange follows and Gouti stuns Northcutt badly with a right hand and follows with a guillotine attempt, but Sage seems okay and instead the Frenchman drops for a takedown. Sage stuffs that and remains on his feet, and they break off. Few glancing blows land for Sage and Gouti doesn’t land a lot in return. Takedown attempt is stuffed by Sage and the round ends shortly after. Close one to call but I’d go 10-9 Gouti for actually hurting Northcutt with punches early on.

Round Two and Gouti pushes forward again as both men exchange glancing strikes again. Nice shots from Gouti and he stuffs a takedown attempt from Northcutt. Exchange continues with a clean left hook landing for Gouti. Big combo drops Northcutt and he’s in trouble, going down with Gouti landing on top in half-guard. Sage does well to recover and manages to take little damage, and the action slows down a bit from there. Crowd are furious with Sage losing, seemingly. He works to his feet but Gouti keeps him against the fence, and then takes him down again. He basically does nothing with the position, but to be fair he’s keeping Sage firmly grounded. Ref Kerry Hatley stands them up with less than a minute to go, and Northcutt fires off with some strikes, but Gouti swings back and it appears that he still has an advantage in power. Round ends on the feet; clearly 10-9 Gouti.

Round Three and Northcutt lands a nice hook kick to begin…and for some reason the ref calls time. Totally weird stoppage as apparently Gouti got a toe in the eye or something. They restart quickly and continue to trade off with largely glancing blows. Decent low kicks from Sage keep the Frenchman at distance, but when he goes for a takedown Gouti literally leaps out of it. Couple of hooks from Gouti lead to a takedown attempt and he gets it, planting Sage against the fence. Northcutt’s apparently leading in terms of strikes but I still don’t think he’s winning. He does stand up, but Gouti stays on him and gets him down again. Crowd are still angry but what can you do? Gouti continues to keep Sage grounded, even though he’s doing little with the position. Northcutt works up to his feet, and from there the ref calls a break. Couple of kicks land for Sage but Gouti fires back with punches of his own. Takedown attempt from Sage is blocked, but he manages to break with a hard elbow. Seconds to go and Sage looks for another takedown, but Gouti stuffs it again. Weird cartwheel kick by Sage is answered by a Gouti left and that’s it. Call it 30-27 Gouti, although 29-28 with Sage taking the first would be fair.

Judges all have it 29-28 for Sage Northcutt, totally bad decision there. I know he was the home state boy and everything but I don’t see how he won when he got hurt in the first two rounds and was largely controlled in the second and third too. Maybe he won the first but I just can’t see how he won the fight overall. Poor Gouti got robbed. Decent fight but nothing spectacular too as it appears like we’ll be waiting a little longer for Sage to live up to his potential.

Featherweight Fight: Brandon Davis vs Steve Peterson

This was elevated to the main card when the show lost Jessica Aguilar vs. Livinha Souza, and to be honest I didn’t have a clue who to pick as I knew nothing about the two men fighting. They were both coming off Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series though so I was at least expecting something exciting.

Round One and Peterson comes out pushing forward as Davis fires some strikes early on. Big trade sees Davis land a hard combination. Exchange continues at a fast pace and it looks like Davis has the better striking skills as he’s moving well and avoiding the big shots from Peterson. Takedown attempt is easily shrugged off by Davis. More exchanges see Davis continue to land the better blows. Peterson’s face is pretty badly marked up too. More of the same follows to end the round. 10-9 Davis, decent round actually.

Round Two and Peterson continues to follow Davis without landing the cleaner shots. Takedown is blocked well by Davis. Nice overhand right connects for Davis as the fight continues on with more of the same. Peterson just doesn’t seem to be able to change things up. Can’t fault the guy for his aggression though. Two minutes gone and he manages to draw Davis into a bit of a trade and lands some decent shots, but Davis quickly gets back to moving around and drawing Peterson in and landing counters. Clinch sees both men land some shots from close range before Peterson forces Davis into the fence. He somehow takes the back from there and gets both hooks, but Davis shakes him off. Armbar attempt from Peterson is avoided and Davis remains on top in guard. They get back to their feet and exchange inside before Peterson drops for the takedown again, and again takes the back standing. Davis avoids that and pins him into the fence and they jockey for position again. Takedown from Peterson and he ends the round on top. 10-9 Davis but Peterson did well later on.

Round Three and Peterson opens with a big right hand, but Davis fires back with a hard combination of his own. Exchange continues and again it’s Peterson walking into the better strikes from Davis. Takedown attempt is shrugged off by Davis. He’s looking a bit tired now though and Peterson is landing far more than he did earlier on. Nice combo lands for Peterson but Davis eats it right up. Both men continue to land with Peterson constantly pushing forward. This is a really nasty pace. Big shots begin to get through for Davis and Peterson is badly bloodied up now. Takedown attempt is blocked by Davis. Peterson’s chin is pretty insane as he just keeps eating shots and coming forward. He keeps pushing, but eats a BIG KNEE from Davis and suddenly he’s doing the FISH DANCE and lord knows how he’s still standing! Davis looks for the finish but somehow Peterson tells him to bring it on, and the crowd go APESHIT. Both men keep on swinging and now any sign of defense is out of the window for Peterson. Round ends on the feet with more brawling. Call it 30-27 Davis but it turned into a hell of a brawl in the end.

And it’s a unanimous decision for Brandon Davis, 30-27, 29-28 and 30-26. Fun fight overall as Peterson literally showed insane amounts of aggression and kept coming forward even if he was eating some serious punishment throughout from Davis. The fish dance in particular was pretty great. Doubt either man becomes a contender but shit, can’t fault their effort, that’s for sure!

Welterweight Fight: Thiago Alves vs Curtis Millender

Former title challenger Alves had been set to face Zak Cummings in January but when that fight fell through, he ended up on this card against newcomer Millender, who was unbeaten in his last six fights. Despite Alves’s advanced age I was taking him here as I didn’t feel like Millender had anything too great-sounding on his record, and Alves had looked pretty good in his last fight with Patrick Cote.

Fight begins and Millender looks massive in comparison to Alves which is crazy given Alves was once a total monster at 170lbs. Left hook lands for Millender as he comes forward. Alves continues to circle on the outside as Millender stalks forward but comes up short on most of his strikes. Flying knee lands pretty cleanly for Millender but Alves takes it well. Leg kick follows for the newcomer. Alves hasn’t really uncorked much at all thus far. Spin kick to the body from Millender. Jab counters an Alves low kick. Jab wobbles Alves and he follows with a flying knee that doesn’t really land. Alves looks recovered but Millender keeps pushing forward. Head kick glances for Thiago. Exchange continues with Alves suddenly looking more comfortable…until a right hand drops him to his knees! He pops up, but he’s in trouble and Millender puts him down face-first with an uppercut. Millender pounces to look for the finish, but Alves somehow gets back up. He’s all over the place though and Millender continues to pour it on, but can’t quite finish him off and Alves to be fair to him fires back as much as he can. Right hand lands for Millender but Alves tackles him to the ground and avoids a guillotine as the round ends. 10-9 Millender.

Into the 2nd and they exchange a bunch of strikes right from the off with both men landing. Alves has done well to recover from that first round barrage. Counter right hand lands well for Millender as Alves pushes forward. Both men throw out some jabs and Millender lands the better shots by using some quicker movement. Couple of nice kicks land for Alves. Good right hand fires back to the body for Millender. Overhand right connects for Alves. Alves is looking more comfortable now but he’s still following Millender a bit too much. Nasty counter right lands for Millender. Alves keeps coming forward but he’s eating more counters, and suddenly he walks into a HUGE LEFT KNEE that puts him DOWN AND OUT. Wow.

Tremendous debut for Curtis Millender – Alves is ageing but he’s still a tough guy and that was the first time he’d been outright knocked out since 2006 (!) which is massively impressive. Millender used his length and striking to keep Alves at distance for the majority of the fight and while he couldn’t capitalise on the big shots he landed in the first round, it didn’t matter in the end. Can’t wait to see this guy fight again. As for Alves, could be time to hang it up given he’s now been fighting for 16 years (!). Father Time waits for no man I guess.

Lightweight Fight: James Vick vs Francisco Trinaldo

After starching rising star Joe Duffy in a bit of an upset in November he was clearly due a step up, and he got it – kind of – in the form of Massaranduba, who had reeled off 8 wins in his last 9 fights. I mean, he wasn’t ranked much higher than Vick but he was still Vick’s toughest opponent since Beneil Dariush in 2016. I was picking Massaranduba just because I’m a big fan of his, but with Vick’s long reach it was a tough fight for him.

First round begins and Vick’s reach and height advantage is obvious right away. They trade body kicks early on as Trinaldo pushes forward, and it looks like Vick clearly wants to keep the Brazilian at range. He uses some more kicks and then lands with a nice combination too. Clinch from Vick and he forces Trinaldo into the fence, but Massaranduba quickly breaks free. More range striking follows for Vick but he almost eats Trinaldo’s big overhand left. Left hand does connect for Trinaldo, but as he tries to follow it up Vick counters with a right that drops him! Trinaldo manages to hit a takedown, but Vick gets up only to be taken down again. Guillotine attempt follows for Vick but Trinaldo eases free and ends up on top in half-guard. Good job from Vick to stand, but Trinaldo drops for a guillotine of his own and it looks pretty tight. Vick gives the thumbs up though and works free, ending up on top in side mount. Scramble from Trinaldo puts him back up to his feet, where Vick lands with a knee. Good low kick from Vick. One minute to go and they trade off with Vick getting the advantage. Wild swings glance for both men before Vick tags the Brazilian with a combo. Trinaldo is really struggling to land due to the height disadvantage. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Vick but a pretty great round.

Second round and Trinaldo presses forward, glancing with the overhand left as Vick attempts a switch kick. Couple of punches cause Trinaldo to slip, but he pops up and eats a body kick. Head kick from Vick but Trinaldo ducks under and gets a slam to the ground. Vick gives his back to stand, and turns into him to deliver some sharp knees. Takedown attempt by Vick is stuffed and Trinaldo muscles him into the fence, but Vick trips him down and takes the back. Trinaldo works back up, and they separate. Superkick glances for Vick and a head kick follows. Nice combination answers back for Trinaldo. Another follows but he’s still coming up slightly short. Vick continues to backpedal, but he is landing kicks to the body as he does so. One-two lands for Trinaldo pretty cleanly though. Body kick lands for Vick but he eats a left to the body in response. Few more kicks connect for Vick. Round ends shortly after. 10-9 Vick again although Trinaldo was the aggressor throughout.

Third round and Trinaldo tries to close Vick down again but he still can’t seem to get inside the reach of Vick. Flying knee glances for Vick. Vick seems content to keep Trinaldo at the end of his kicks – usually a side kick to the body – but he isn’t doing all that much more really. Nice low kick lands for Trinaldo. Good right hand lands too to follow a left that misses. Big body kick lands for Massaranduba. Few more side kicks to the chest answer for Vick. Another decent combo connects for Trinaldo. He’s doing much better in this round as Vick looks a little slower. Combinations glance for both men. Trinaldo keeps on chasing him down and he lands with a hard body kick. One minute to go and it’s more of the same. Crowd are getting a bit restless actually. Seconds to go and Massaranduba continues to walk Vick down, but he still can’t hurt the guy. Head kick glances for the Brazilian and that’s it. 10-9 Trinaldo but too little, too late and 29-28 Vick overall.

All three judges have it 29-28 for James Vick. Pretty decent fight although it must be said, the first round was far better than the second or third as Vick seemed to realise he could keep Trinaldo at distance with his kicks and decided to do that rather than take any risks or anything. Third round in particular was a bit frustrating and I can’t imagine that Vick earned many fans with this performance, but it was a good win regardless. Post-fight Vick calls out a top ten opponent and sure, he should be fighting one next. Maybe the winner of April’s Chiesa vs. Pettis fight?

Heavyweight Fight: Derrick Lewis vs Marcin Tybura

Despite Lewis having been on the shelf with a back injury since June, this was still a pretty good-sounding fight because the Heavyweight division is always thin on contenders but also because anything involving Lewis is somehow entertaining, no matter how sloppy he is. I was picking Tybura as I figured he could capitalise on Lewis’s poor ground game, but with the sheer power of Lewis that was always a question mark.

Fight begins and Lewis drops Tybura with an overhand right from the off, following him down into half-guard. May have been a slip from Tybura to be fair but regardless he’s in a bad spot. Leglock attempt from Tybura and he attempts to use it to sweep, but Lewis shows some decent base and so he switches off to a calf slicer attempt. Lewis manages to avoid that and he ends up in side mount, but Tybura rolls and looks to stand. Lewis gets a front headlock and spins to take the back, but Tybura stands and that causes Lewis to stumble and fall over to the ground. Tybura instantly follows him and takes full mount, and now it’s Lewis who’s in trouble. That was a comical sequence. Lewis gives his back and Tybura slaps both hooks in, but the Black Beast shakes him off and DECKS HIM WITH A RIGHT! Crowd go crazy as Lewis pounces to attempt to finish, but Tybura does enough from half-guard to tie him up and survive. From there he manages to hit a sweep, and he winds up on top in half-guard. The Polish fighter works with some punches from the top, keeping Lewis grounded, and the action largely slows down. Full mount from Tybura with seconds to go and he takes the back again. Lewis turns and gives up an Americana, but Tybura can’t finish before the buzzer. Probably 10-9 Lewis for the knockdowns, but it was close.

Into the 2nd and Tybura opens with some low kicks that back Lewis up. Head kick glances for the Polish fighter but Lewis looks fine. Big right hand lands for Lewis but Tybura takes it well. Wild combination from the Black Beast backs Tybura up, but he takes Lewis down pretty easily and lands in side mount. Action slows down a lot as Tybura controls him and then manages to take the back as Lewis scrambles. Lewis stands with Tybura hanging on his back with both hooks, but he can’t seem to shake Tybura and ends up mounted instead. Lewis again gives his back up and Tybura gets both hooks, and despite a scramble the Black Beast remains stuck on the bottom. Full mount now for Tybura and he lands some solid strikes. Round ends with Tybura still in mount. 10-9 Tybura, not far off being a 10-8 actually.

Third and final round and both men look much slower now. Tybura pushes forward and lands some strikes from the outside, as Lewis definitely seems gassed to me. Tybura makes some good use of the oblique kick to the legs, but he eats a glancing combo from the Black Beast. Clinch from Tybura and he forces Lewis into the fence, landing some knees to the legs. Takedown attempt follows but Lewis actually defends well this time. Tybura keeps trying, but Lewis surprises him with a throw, and as he comes back up, the Black Beast WAYLAYS HIM WITH A FLURRY! Tybura goes down, gripping onto the leg, and Lewis quickly follows with some BRUTAL hammer fists that finish him off for good. Violent stuff!

Post-fight Lewis cuts one of his usual comical promos, promising to “go deep” with his wife which causes a ton of laughter from the crowd. Can’t say the guy doesn’t have charisma! Pretty fun fight too although it again demonstrated the tons of holes Lewis has in his overall game. Still, he always has that insane power which is like the ultimate equaliser, and it paid off well for him yet again. The Black Beast remains one of the most entertaining men to watch in the UFC and in the end that’s what matters, right?

Welterweight Fight: Donald Cerrone vs Yancy Medeiros

Despite Cerrone coming off three straight losses and Medeiros coming off three straight wins, this fight seemed just to make sense given the wild, aggressive styles of both men. I was picking Cerrone to right the ship with a win here as I felt he was slightly better than Medeiros in all areas, but with the fears of his chin maybe being shot I wasn’t 100% sure.

Round One begins with Medeiros firing a hard right hand at Cowboy right away. Takedown attempt from Cowboy is shrugged off and Medeiros fires away with some more shots that don’t catch Cowboy cleanly. Good body kick lands for Cerrone. Medeiros is really pressing forward here. Leg kick lands for Cerrone. Few more low kicks land for Cowboy to keep Medeiros at range, but Medeiros lands with a clean overhand right. More combos land for the Hawaiian and Cerrone is being pegged back a little. He quickly comes back with a left that knocks Medeiros down, but the Hawaiian pops back up and high-fives him. Looked like it could’ve been a slip actually. Big left hand connects for Medeiros but this time he eats a proper knockdown off a Cowboy left hand. Medeiros pops back up showing a good chin, but he got rocked there. Couple more counters now get through for Cowboy. Spin kick glances for Medeiros as he keeps on pushing forward. Big trade sees both men land. Good right to the body from Medeiros and he avoids a takedown attempt before Cerrone presses him into the fence. They jockey for position there with thirty seconds to go, and then Cerrone breaks with a hard right. Big combo follows for Cowboy. He’s cut on the scalp. Medeiros keeps pushing forward, but a BIG COUNTER COMBO has his legs buckled and he goes down, and Cerrone finishes it literally right before the buzzer!

Hell of a fight for the time it lasted; Medeiros was the aggressor throughout but once Cowboy had his timing down he was clearly landing the better shots and it looked like only a matter of time before he went down. Didn’t expect it in the first round but I’ll take it! Big win for Cowboy to get back on the proverbial horse and thank God for that. Medeiros I don’t think loses much with this either as he’s still a super-reliable action fighter, and this one delivered in every possible way really.

-Show ends with Cowboy unsurprisingly calling literally anyone out for his next fight.

Final Thoughts….

This turned out to be a great show in the end – Northcutt/Gouti and Vick/Trinaldo weren’t great but they both had their moments, and everything else was super-exciting, even if Lewis/Tybura was sloppy at times. Main event was probably the best fight on offer but I think a new star may be on the horizon in the form of Curtis Millender, too. Big thumbs up for this one.

Best Fight: Cerrone vs. Medeiros
Worst Fight: Northcutt vs. Gouti

Overall Rating: ****

Until next time,

Scott Newman: